Nepal`s ex-king sparks speculation over age-old Tika tradition

Last Updated: Sunday, October 17, 2010 - 22:49

Kathmandu: Nepal`s dethroned king held an an age-old tradition on Vijaya Dashami today that President Ram Baran Yadav is tasked to perform as the head of state,
fuelling speculation over Gyanendra`s stepped up public appearances.

The 65-year-old former monarch was barred from offering the traditional Vijaya Dashami tika - red vermilion powder mixed with curd and rice - to distinguished citizens
after he was dethroned in May 2008.

Since the abolition of monarchy, Yadav as the first president of the republic has been entrusted with the popular responsibility in his capacity as the head of the state. Even as the President took part in a function at the at the Rashtrapati Bhawan, the former monarch separately organise a function less than a kilometre away.

Large of number of Gyanendra`s supporters, including former Prime Minister Marich Man Singh, relatives, artists, media persons and general public visited Nirmal Niwas, the
private residence of the ex-monarch, to take part in the function.

There were more than 2,000 people who received the tika from the ex-king. Some 1,500 people, including Vice president Parmananda Jha, Prime Minister Madhav Kumar Nepal, ministers, party leaders, lawmakers, officials and distinguished guests visited the Rastrapati Bhawan to receive the tika.

Last month, the former monarch was barred from attending a felicitation function for the `Living Goddess` in his ancestral Hanumandhoka palace complex in the heart of the
capital at the last moment on the eve of Indra Jatra, a major Hindu festival in the country.
Gyanendra has kept a low profile since he left the Narayanhiti palace in June 2008, when the country`s governing Constituent Assembly voted to abolish the centuries-old monarchy and declare a republic.

The former monarch, however, has lately increased his appearances at public and religious functions, including visiting important temples across the country amid pomp and show.

Supporters of the monarchy in Nepal, where kings have been revered as the reincarnation of the Lord Vishnu, have demanded a national referendum to decide if the monarchy
should be revived.

Even Gyanendra has hinted that the monarchy may one day be restored. In an interview aired last year, the deposed king did not rule out the revival of the monarchy if the
people believed the institution was important for the country. Mass protests against Gyanendra, who became the king in 2001 after the death of his elder brother Birendra in a palace massacre, finally culminated in the abolition of the monarchy soon after the United CPN-Maoist emerged as the largest party in the 2008 assembly polls.

The high-profile public appearances of Gyanendra comes amid a deepening constitutional crisis in the country due to the failure of the political parties to elect a new premier
following the resignation of Madhav Kumar Nepal on June 30.

Nepal`s Parliament has failed to elect a new leader even after 12 rounds of election.
Last month, Nepal`s Defence Minister Bidya Devi Bhandari warned that the political crisis had emboldened the dethroned monarch to intensify his public activities in the
country.

The CPN-UML leader blamed her own party for strengthening pro-monarchist forces in the country by remaining neutral in voting in parliament. She had said that it was due to the policy adopted by her party that the ousted king has been emboldened and intensified his activities in the name of social works.

She warned that the former royalists are taking advantage of the fluid political situation in the country.

PTI



First Published: Sunday, October 17, 2010 - 22:49

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